A bulky parcel arrives at the door of my house in south London, and as I tear open the wrapping – first thick transparent plastic, then a padded envelope, then bubble wrap – the courier looks on uneasily: What is this, his expression says, some as yet respectable-looking crackhead who’s heading way on down – and fast? Sensing his mounting opprobrium, I scribble with the stylus on the hideous little grey screen of his hideous little handheld computer and gesture him away. Alone, I head for the kitchen … and the knives.
“I first met Bruce Robinson in the mid-Nineties – it was a vague decade for both of us, so I feel no need to hammer down the year. We were lunching with mutual friends, whose house in the vegetable underbelly of Birmingham is a curious Arts and Crafts repro of a Tudor mansion. So, picture the scene: side tables strewn with well-carved beef bones, a long dining table scattered with dirtied plates and smeary glasses, silvery winter-afternoon light falling from high, diamond-mullioned windows and oily ancestral gentry peering down from the wood-panelled walls.